Paging Dr. House

I really thought Thursday was going to bring a whole bunch of answers, and I would start feeling so much better. Instead it brought more frustration, and no answers. And yes, I’m still coughing.

Thursday I was set to have my allergy testing redone. The first time it was done I wasn’t off my allergy medicine for long enough. This time I had endured 9 days with no drugs. It was miserable. It reminded me of how bad I’ve felt in prior months. Long story short round 1 of skin testing showed no allergies. On to round 2 on my arms, also showing no results. Now most people would think this is a really good thing, but if you’ve been coughing for 5 months and passing every test it’s infuriating. Plus, as my doctor agreed, I’ve had some reactions that sound like a serious allergic reaction. Why doesn’t anything show up? So, Monday I get to do more blood work so they can run additional tests on the foods I have problems with. But that doesn’t get us any answers for the elephant in the room. 5 months of coughing!

Everyone has an opinion. People keep sending me ideas of what they think is causing the coughing. I know that the coughing is a symptom of troubles breathing. Saturday morning’s run was proof of that. I was almost reduced to tears by the end from frustration. What has happened to me? And why can no one find any answers?

So, now it’s a referral to doctor #4 to see what’s up with my lungs. Well, he was busy till the end of October, and since I’ve already been coughing for 5 months the idea of waiting another month just for someone to look at me wasn’t really appealing. So, I just have to wait another week to see one of his colleagues. Add on top of that a brewing battle with the insurance company over one of the tests my doctor order to determine her course of treatment has been deemed medically unnecessary. Sometimes it seems overwhelming. Other times I realize how fortunate I am. So, it’s one foot in front of the other, and the insurance company can expect a little letter coming in the mail.

“You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you.”      – Anne Lamott

How are ya doing?

Every morning my Mom asks me the same question, “how are you doing?” Some mornings my blurry eyes look at her pre-coffee with no idea how I feel about anything. And then the coughing starts again, and we all know how I’m doing. Most days I’m just going through motions. Some moments are better than others. Some are down right scary, which is why my Mom asks how I’m doing every morning.

It didn’t seem like a big deal when I started coughing in May. I don’t get sick a lot, so I figured it was just a cold. I would go for a run, and end up doubled over coughing a quarter-mile down the road sometimes ending the run by getting sick or struggling to breathe. For weeks I put up with it all. I would lay in bed coughing on my days off, and binge watching netflix shows because I didn’t have the energy to move. Sleeping didn’t help. Neither did my attempts at running, or anything else I tried. So finally I went to the doctor. Bronchitis was going around, and I was the fifth person in a row with the same symptoms. Nothing got better with an allergic reaction to the antibiotics, and an inhaler that didn’t seem to do anything. I still struggled with running, but managed to run the Peachtree Road Race without kneeling over. Two weeks later I was back at the doctors, and leaving with yet another inhaler with hopes that my blood work would show us the answers. Instead of answers I passed every test. I had perfectly functioning lungs and heart, and no problems with any of my blood work, but the coughing and chest problems didn’t stop.

Two weeks later I was back in my doctor’s office struggling to breathe and coughing none stop. She looked annoyed, but I persisted. I know my body, and something was not right. She was now convinced I had asthma. I flunked the breathing test, and past the chest x-ray with flying colors. More inhalers came with few instructions along with insomnia like I’ve never had before. So, I decided to go to an asthma specialist. I was tired of the breathing attacks. The scariest, and largest came when half of my family was in town. Standing in the shower the coughing started, followed by not breathing. I kept trying to cough so I could breathe, and ended up on the floor. The first asthma doctor was no help. I shouldn’t have to wait four days for someone to call back when I say I can’t breathe, and being told it was just a sinus infection was frustrating. My new doctor listens, and calls back within hours, and while I was still frustrated being told it was a sinus infection and not asthma she seemed interested in getting to the bottom of things as she watched my struggling. She could tell I didn’t like it, but had a plan if the antibiotics didn’t work.

Three rounds of antibiotics later I laid in the CT scanner the day after my birthday having my head scanned. Naturally they found no signs of anything, which explains why the antibiotics never did anything. Four months later I’m still coughing, I can’t even run a mile without walking, and I have more tests next week. I’ve spent many times crying in frustration until I realized one morning that I was tired of it all bringing me down. I don’t run far or fast, but I get out several times a week and put one foot in front of the other. One day I will hopefully have some answers, and maybe even stop scaring my Mom by having a massive asthma attack in front of her. Today I’m doing okay, and tomorrow I will keep fighting!

Trails

Sometimes you need to get off the beaten path, and change the pace. By the time I made it to the end of my last training cycle I was exhausted. I had been sick for almost a month, working retail in a run speciality store in the middle of holiday madness, and taking care of my parents after my Dad’s back surgery. Before I even made it to the start line in Jacksonville I knew the next thing I needed was a break. So, my goal for the new year didn’t focus on goal race times, finally getting a BQ, or races at all. Instead I just wanted to have some fun.

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For months I had talked about wanting to go out on trails. The Mayor’s Midnight Marathon has had a lasting affect on my thoughts on trails. After several grueling miles on a gravel tank trail runners are rewarded with a beautiful single track trail through mountain meadows before climbing up to the peak. It is one of my favorite race memories ever. I knew I wanted to get back to it. I am tired of taking my life in my hands every time I go for a run in Atlanta. Fast, and distracted drivers quickly take the fun out of nearly every run. The holidays only seemed to make everything worse. So, I strapped on a pair of trail shoes given to me by a friend, bought a park pass, and headed to the river to explore the single track trails.

There is something about trail running that is incredible freeing. There is no worry about pace, traffic, or anything other than what the footing is for your next step. You can jump over puddles, speed down hills, and hop over roots and rocks. It’s something I plan to do every week no matter what I decide to train for. I feel stronger and happier every time I hit the trails. Sometimes the best training plan is to scrap the training plan and rediscover why I love running. So far I have to say it’s working wonders. Time will tell what it brings.